How Can Hearing Loss Affect Driving Habits?

Woman with dark hair wearing a hearing aid happily driver her car

Keep your eyes on the road. Obviously, it’s good advice, but it doesn’t say much about your other senses. Your ears, for instance, are doing a lot of work while you’re driving, helping you track other vehicles, calling your attention to information on your dashboard, and keeping you engaged with the other people in your vehicle.

So how you drive can change if you’re experiencing hearing loss. That’s not to say your driving will come to be excessively dangerous. Distracted driving and inexperience are larger liabilities when it comes to safety. Nevertheless, some special safeguards need to be taken by individuals with hearing loss to ensure they keep driving as safely as possible.

Hearing loss can impact your situational awareness but acquiring safe driving habits can help you stay safe while driving.

How hearing loss could be impacting your driving

In general, driving is a vision-centered task (at least, if it’s not a vision-centric activity, something’s wrong). Even if you have total hearing loss, your driving may change but you will still probably be able to drive. While driving you do use your hearing a lot, after all. Some prevalent examples include:

  • Even though most vehicles are engineered to decrease road noise, your sense of hearing can raise your awareness of other vehicles. You will typically be able to hear an oncoming truck, for example.
  • Emergency vehicles can often be heard before they can be seen.
  • Your hearing will often alert you when your car has some kind of malfunction. If your engine is knocking or you have an exhaust leak, for instance.
  • Audible alerts will sound when your vehicle is attempting to alert you to something, like an unbuckled seat belt or an open door.
  • If another motorist needs to make you aware of their presence, they will often beep their horn. For example, if you start drifting into another lane or you don’t go at a green light, a horn can make you aware of your error before dangerous things happen.

By utilizing all of these audio cues, you will be building better situational awareness. You could start to miss more and more of these audio cues as your hearing loss progresses. But there are steps you can take to ensure you still remain as safe as you can while driving.

New safe driving habits to develop

It’s fine if you want to continue driving even after developing hearing loss! Stay safe out on the road with these tips:

  • Keep the noise inside your car to a minimum: Hearing loss is going to make it hard for your ears to separate sounds. When the wind is howling and your passenger is speaking, it could become easy for your ears to grow overwhelmed, which can cause you to become distracted and tired. So roll up your window, turn down the volume, and keep the talking to a minimum while driving.
  • Put away your phone: Well, this is good advice whether you have hearing loss or not. Phones are among the highest causes of distraction on the road today. And that goes double when you try to use them with hearing loss. You will simply be safer when you put away your phone and it could save your life.
  • Keep an eye on your instrument panel: Typically, when you need to pay attention to your instrument panel, your vehicle will beep or make some other sound. So periodically glance down to see if any dash lights are on.
  • Pay extra attention to your mirrors: Even with sirens blaring, you may not hear that ambulance coming up behind you. So make sure you aren’t neglecting your mirrors. And generally try to keep an elevated awareness for emergency vehicles.

Keeping your hearing aid ready for the road

If you have hearing loss, driving is one of those scenarios where wearing a hearing aid can really come in handy. And when you’re driving, use these tips to make your hearing aids a real asset:

  • Get the most recent updates and keep your hearing aid clean and charged: When you’re on your way to the store, the last thing you need is for your battery to quit. That can distract you and could even create a dangerous situation. So keep your batteries charged and make sure everything’s working properly.
  • Each time you drive, wear your hearing aid: It’s not going to help you if you don’t wear it! So every time you drive, make sure you’re wearing your hearing aids. By doing this, your brain will have an easier time getting used to the incoming signals.
  • Ask us for a “driving” setting: We can program a car setting into your hearing aid if you drive a lot. The size of the inside of your vehicle and the fact that your passengers will be talking to you from the side or rear will be the factors we will use to optimize this “car setting” for smoother safer driving.

Lots of people with hearing loss continue to drive and hearing aids make the process easier and safer. Developing good driving habits can help ensure that your drive is pleasant and that your eyes stay safely on the road.

The site information is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. To receive personalized advice or treatment, schedule an appointment.


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